The Central Coast School Food Alliance will hold the 2nd Annual Celebrating School Food Festival on Saturday, October 8, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College.  Guest speakers include Congressman Sam Farr, Assemblymember Bill Monning, & Santa Cruz Education Superintendent Michael Watkins.

With nutrition and healthy food success stories in every Santa Cruz County school district and county program focused on children, the Central Coast School Food Alliance is proud to showcase school food tasting booths, food service district displays,  an interactive art zone, hands-on gardening and planting workshops, vendors, tasting booths, and live music with Grammy Award Winning Artist Tom Chapin—all to celebrate and share our school nutrition successes  and innovations within the community.

“This annual event is a critical way in which we get to show our whole community how our schools are getting nutrition and school meals right,” said Willy Elliot McCrea, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank and co-chair of the CCSFA’s leadership team. “We are so excited by the focus on fresh food as the key to fighting childhood hunger and diabetes.”

The region’s school food service directors are at the forefront of this effort, with projects such as school breakfast programs featuring fruits and vegetables from the Agricultural Land Based Training Association (ALBA) and lunches made from produce grown at Bonny Doon’s Shumei Farm  along with new marketing and branding initiatives for healthy, fresh food

”From the field to the lunchline we’re all committed to learning and sharing innovative, healthy and fresh food menu lessons to ensure we’re providing the best we can offer our kids,” said Jamie Smith, Food and Nutrition Director for Santa Cruz City Schools.

“In addition to Jamie’s exciting actions in his district we have over ten other Food Service Directors in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties providing on the ground input to guide dozens of community and government partners in this collaborative School Food Alliance,” said Tim Galarneau, the CCSFA Community Coordinator and researcher at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems.

Some of the school meal programs being highlighted include San Lorenzo Valley School District, Scotts Valley Unified, Santa Cruz City Schools, Live Oak School District, Soquel Unified, and Pajaro Valley Unified School District. They’ll showcase their programs at the School Food Festival with food demo booths featuring delicious strawberry kiwi salad chicken wrap; veggie sandwiches with greens, cheese, and mustard aioli; veggie salad with dried cranberries and walnuts with a balsamic dressings; sopes with black beans and cabbage salad; and much more!

The Central Coast School Food Alliance (CCSFA) includes a wide range of stakeholders from organizations to government and community representatives, all committed to tackling local issues and challenges to ensure access to healthy, fresh, culturally appropriate and nutritious locally-prepared school breakfasts and lunches for all children throughout the Central Coast.  Co-sponsors of the event include the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz, Go For Health, Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets, Second Harvest Food Bank, Santa Cruz County Food Service Directors from seven districts, and WhyHunger, which is providing funding for this event through a national food security project that includes the CCSFA.